How an Integrated CVIS Elevates Cardiology: A Success Story


The Washington Health SystemThe Washington Health System (WHS) in Washington, Pennsylvania, is an independent, multi-facility hospital operating just outside of Pittsburgh. Despite their proximity to a city with a reputation for top-notch cardiology programs, WHS is able to maintain its market share through the forward-thinking mindset of their community-based organization.

The administrative team at WHS focuses on bringing robust technology to the facility to meet the clinical and operational needs of the staff, so they can provide the highest level of patient care to the surrounding community. A 12-year partnership with Change Healthcare has created a consistent advantage for WHS to stay at the forefront of cardiac care. The relationship spans from the original implementation of the cardiovascular information system (CVIS) to adopting the full portfolio of applications and most recently, to serving as a beta for the 14.0 version of the software.

By committing to a fully-integrated CVIS and continually updating and expanding the program over time, WHS streamlined their processes, improved patient experience, and shortened the reimbursement cycle.

Choosing the Right CVIS

Back in 2005, The Washington Health System Heart & Vascular Center embarked on an ambitious plan to implement a CVIS while converting to digital echocardiography and adding a third cath lab. Hospital administrators believed the automated reporting tools of a CVIS would reduce manual processes, improve information-sharing and create efficiencies across the labs.

“We wanted a seamless, integrated product that would decrease manual entry and send essential information to systems within our existing infrastructure,” says Marcia Deeb, MBA, cardiovascular information system coordinator.

WHS chose Change Healthcare’s complete CVIS, McKesson Cardiology, after evaluating four other vendors. The cardiovascular image and information management solution operates on a single database platform so that all patient data can be shared between systems and departments.

“We knew almost immediately that we had made the right decision in selecting McKesson Cardiology because clinician adoption was so high,” says Deeb. “Normally when you change vendors or force your staff or physicians to adapt to a new process or technology, you’ll get a lot of push back. But because McKesson Cardiology made their lives easier we didn’t notice that.”

Continual Improvement and Development is Key

From that initial installation, WHS has gradually integrated all the McKesson Cardiology interfaces and modules except for pediatric support. The ability to slowly integrate new features and new products over time and at a pace that made sense to WHS is an implementation process that impressed Deeb. “One of the top features of McKesson Cardiology is the single database because all the information is housed in one area. This has allowed us to create a fully integrated CVIS with a nice downstream HIE where everyone can talk to everyone.”

This capability became a priority when WHS purchased nearby Waynesburg Hospital in 2015. By November 2016, the IT integration was complete. “This was a big undertaking because the hospital’s cardiology department was still using videotapes and a lot of manual labor,” says Deeb. “Now that our new hospital is up to speed on McKesson Cardiology, it’s serving as a diagnostic facility and we’re able to automatically share patient information between our two facilities.”

Most recently, WHS collaborated with Change Healthcare as a beta partner for McKesson Cardiology 14.0. Prior to this version of the CVIS, system administrators had to manually help cardiologists develop worklists so they knew which diagnostic studies they needed to read. With the rollout of 14.0 – now complete at WHS – cardiologists have that capability at their fingertips. “McKesson Cardiology 14.0 gives our end users more power to customize the system to work in their individual workflow,” Deeb says.

The Workflow Benefits of CVIS

The implementation of a CVIS to support hemo, EKG, cath and echo for imaging and reporting completely overhauled the workflow of the cardiology department at WHS. The ability to access a complete cardiovascular record for every patient has resulted in improved care quality and hospital efficiency.

Clinically, automation means that WHS has moved from videotapes and CDs to viewing digital images from anywhere on any station. In hemodynamics, the new system integrated all three labs. With the results interface, peripheral vascular ultrasound, stress test and EKG results are now directly sent to McKesson Cardiology for electronic distribution to the cardiologists.

Overall, the clinical experience has been vastly improved because of the system’s ability to provide a streamlined and integrated workflow that removes extra steps for cardiologists and techs, Deeb says. “Our cardiologists with privileges at other facilities comment that McKesson Cardiology is so much easier to use because it blends into their workflow and puts all the information they need at their fingertips.”

The Patient Care Benefits of CVIS

WHS’s ongoing commitment to making their CVIS comprehensive has helped improve patient care as well. WHS has integrated radiology for nuclear stress into McKesson Cardiology for one unified report to help the referring community quickly determine patient results. The medication interface means that any meds administered in the cath lab will automatically send to the HIS, helping to eliminate the risk of errors that can occur in a paper-based process.

As Deeb explains, “Previously when a patient returned to the nursing unit, it was difficult to determine what meds had been given. Now we don’t have to worry because it’s relayed electronically.”

The Results Manager module of McKesson Cardiology has also moved WHS from a paper-driven organization to an automated one where referring physicians can now access results more quickly for improved patient care. “McKesson has definitely improved quality at WHS because we’re able to track it so much easier with automation,” states Deeb.

The Financial Benefits of CVIS

Operationally, McKesson Cardiology has improved hospital efficiency because the inventory and billing modules have integrated the process of inputting charges directly into the nurses’ workflow. By automating the charge management process of its cardiovascular service line, WHS has streamlined its charging workflow, saving time and money and speeding reimbursement. In fact, the hospital reduced the time spent each year on the charge process by nearly 90%.

In the area of inventory management, the module from Change Healthcare saves WHS money because it automatically tracks inventory and sends a report to the inventory clerk to reorder supplies. According to Deeb, “We’re able to keep a lot less product on the shelf and that ability to dramatically reduce the number of items in stock results in costs savings.”

Find a Partner for the Long Haul

While the results of enhanced clinical efficiency and higher productivity have been impressive, Deeb says having a vendor to partner with for the long haul is what really stands out to her. She notes that as a vendor, Change Healthcare is quite flexible and adaptable and is also adept at anticipating changes in the market.

“McKesson has adapted to our needs along the way as healthcare continues to throw us curveballs,” remarks Deeb. “As we discover areas that need adjustment – from a new feature on a template to help cardiologists to a quick fix for a Joint Commission audit – Change Healthcare works to get us where we need to be.”

Through their partnership with Change Healthcare, The Washington Health System has developed a cardiology department that is more efficient, more cost-effective, and better equipped to serve patients. To learn more about Change Healthcare’s cardiology solutions, contact us today.

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